ASEAN, dialogue partners vow to enhance ties

ASEAN and its dialogue partners have agreed to intensify collaboration through the effective implementation of existing joint action plans between the bloc and each partner, focusing on economics, trade, investment, culture, tourism and programmes to narrow development gap and adapt to climate change.
ASEAN and its dialogue partners have agreed to intensify collaboration through the effective implementation of existing joint action plans between the bloc and each partner, focusing on economics, trade, investment, culture, tourism and programmes to narrow development gap and adapt to climate change.

At ASEAN+1 Ministerial Meetings in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, on August 9, the Foreign Ministers of ASEAN and its dialogue partners, namely China, the Republic of Korea (RoK), India, Russia, the US, the EU, Japan and Canada, reviewed their dialogue partnership and cooperation over the past year, proposed cooperation orientations, and discussed issues of mutual concern as well as the preparation for summits between ASEAN and some dialogue partners at the end of the year.

They spoke positively of the development of mutually-beneficial collaboration between ASEAN and its partners, which contribute to promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

The partners pledged to continue their support for the bloc’s central role and assistance for the establishment of the ASEAN Community by 2015, as well as work together to enhance regional connectivity and linkage, effectively implement existing free trade agreements, and push forward negotiate for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

During discussions on regional and international issues, the East Sea issue drew special attention, with participating countries expressing deep concern about the recent tensions in the sea which seriously affected peace, security and stability in the region. They called for efforts to prevent the reoccurrence of similar incidents.

The ASEAN+1 meetings also highlighted the importance for parties involved to abide by international law, particularly the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, settle disputes by peaceful means, restrain themselves, and not to use or threat to use force.

ASEAN and China need to exert more efforts to ensure the full implementation of commitments mentioned in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), first and foremost Article 5 of the DOC on self restrain and refraining from making moves causing instability and further complicating the situation, while stepping up result-oriented talks for an early formation of a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) to better ensure peace and stability in the region, they said.

At the ASEAN-China Ministerial Meeting, both sides committed to further strengthening their strategic partnership, and coordinating to ensure a peaceful, stable and cooperative environment in the region.

They agreed to continue their effective deployment of their 2011-2015 action plan, while furthering coordination in implementing the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC). The ministers also backed the discussion on upgrading the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area, striving for two-way trade of 500 billion USD by 2015 and 1 trillion USD by 2020.

Meanwhile, ASEAN and RoK ministers lauded activities in 2014 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their dialogue partnership, affirming to do their utmost to make the ASEAN-RoK Commemorative Summit in Busan, the RoK, in December a success.

The two sides also vowed to increase bilateral trade to 150 billion USD in 2015.

At the ASEAN-India Ministerial Meeting, ASEAN countries highly valued India ’s assistance for the building of the ASEAN Community, and for the promotion of ASEAN’s central role in the regional structure.

They reached a consensus on the enhancement of connectivity through the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation, the Mekong-India Economic Corridor and the ASEAN-India Air Transport Agreement.

At the ASEAN-Russia Ministerial Meeting, the ministers expressed their satisfaction with bilateral cooperation, especially a 30-percent surge in bilateral trade last year.

They spoke highly of important results gained during the implementation of the 2005-2015 comprehensive action plan, stressing the need to early build a new one with priority given to consolidating the ASEAN Community after 2015, intensifying connectivity, boosting bilateral trade and investment, and dealing with arising challenges.

At the ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting, participants applauded the outcomes of the 20 th ASEAN-EU Foreign Ministers’ Meeting recently held in Brussels, and agreed to work together to lift bilateral ties towards a strategic partnership level.

ASEAN thanked the EU for doubling funding for the ASEAN community building process to 170 million EUR during 2014-2020, and its commitment of over 1.7 billion EUR for Mekong nations to narrow development gap. The two sides saw eye to eye on fostering connections in maritime security, education and disaster control.

On the same day, foreign ministers of ASEAN and the US reached a consensus on continuing to promote comprehensive cooperation in all fields while keeping up efforts to ensure nuclear security and safety and strengthen coordination in climate change adaptation, clean energy and food security. They agreed to consider the building of an ASEAN-US common vision on disarmament and nuclear weapon non-proliferation.

At the ASEAN-Japan Ministerial Meeting, the bloc applauded Japan ’s establishment of the ASEAN Integration Fund, and the country’s support for ASEAN connectivity, particularly 70 key projects to implement the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity.

ASEAN encouraged Japan to continue its assistance in sustainable development for developing countries in the Mekong sub-region, with the focus on infrastructure, water resource management and climate change response.

At the ASEAN-Canada Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the two sides agreed to add new areas such as maritime transport, education, clean energy, small- and medium-sized to the 2015-2020 working plan.

ASEAN appreciated Canada’s commitment to supporting the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) and public-private partnership (PPP) projects while encouraging Canada to consider boosting cooperation on agriculture, infrastructure and narrowing the development gap.

At the ASEAN+3 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (with China, Japan and the Republic of Korea), the ministers appreciated the outcomes of the 2013-2017 ASEAN+3 Action Plan in the fields of trade, investment, finance, connectivity, science and health.

They highlighted the importance of ASEAN+3 cooperation in maintaining peace, security and stability in the region as well as in coping with emerging challenges. They also stressed mutual supplementation between ASEAN+3 and other frameworks such as ASEAN+1, East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+) in promoting linkages in East Asia.

The ministers applauded the ASEAN+3 Emergency Rice Reserve’s initiative to provide timely assistance for the Philippines to overcome the consequences of typhoon Haiyan last year.

Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh co-chaired the ASEAN-EU meeting. Minh affirmed that Vietnam will continue its efforts to deepen the ASEAN-EU relations towards a strategic partnership while calling for the EU to actively contribute to fostering peace, stability and trust building as well as support ASEAN’s central role in the regional architecture.

He proposed the two sides increase consultations at ministerial-level on economic cooperation and organise an ASEAN-EU Business Summit.

Addressing other meetings, Deputy PM and FM Minh asked the partners to actively participate in and contribute to building peace, security, stability and development in the region as well as backing the central role of ASEAN in the regional architecture via ASEAN+1, ASEAN+3, EAS, ARF and ADMM+.

He suggested the partners continue supporting ASEAN in implementing the Roadmap for the ASEAN Community and successfully building the Community by 2015 and its post-2015 development.

Regarding the regional situation, the Vietnamese official shared ASEAN’s view on the need to step up joint efforts to ensure an environment of peace, stability and cooperation in the region, including peace, security, safety and freedom of navigation in the East Sea.

He expressed Vietnam’s deep concern about recent developments that resulted in tensions in the East Sea, especially China’s illegal placement of its oil rig in Vietnam’s waters, and stressed that such violations should not be allowed to repeat in the future.

He underlined ASEAN’s principles as stipulated in the 2012 Statement of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers on ASEAN's Six Point Principles on the East Sea and the ASEAN Foreign Minister’s Statement on the Current Developments in the East Sea which was issued on May 10, 2014, which call for compliance with international law, UNCLOS and DOC as well as the settlement of disputes by peaceful means, self restraint, without use of or threat to use of force.

The parties should further enhance the full and effective implementation of DOC, particularly Article 5 on not allowing activities that complicate the situation, while accelerating substantive negotiations for the early conclusion of the COC, he noted.-VNA

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